Basic social assistance in international situations

Foreigners who are living in Finland permanently have the right to social assistance and are subject to the same eligibility conditions which apply to citizens of Finland. The permanence of the residence is assessed by Kela. The idea is that also foreigners are liable to provide for themselves.

 The amount of basic social assistance is affected by all income and assets available to you.

Asylum seekers

If you are an asylum seeker and within the scope of immigrant reception services, you cannot get basic social assistance. The Finnish Government provides immigrant reception services to you to secure your livelihood. For more information, see the Finnish Immigration Service website.

Temporary residence in Finland

If you live in Finland temporarily, you will usually only be entitled to necessary emergency social assistance (e.g. food and acutely needed medicines). The assistance is awarded in the form of vouchers. However, you must first check whether you can receive help with your finances and the return home in some other way. Such assistance can come, for instance, through a money transfer, through an insurance policy or via the diplomatic mission of your home country. The municipal social welfare authorities assist with the arranging of emergency lodging. 

If you need basic social assistance urgently, you can contact a Kela customer service point or call our customer service number.

Residence both in Finland and abroad

If you live in Finland on a permanent basis and you receive social assistance, you can maintain your full entitlement to social assistance also during short trips of up to seven days abroad. Expenses incurred abroad are not compensated, however. You must tell Kela immediately if you will be staying abroad longer than seven days.

If you live partly in Finland and partly abroad, you can get basic social assistance only for allowable expenses you incur while in Finland. If you live abroad, Kela will determine your entitlement to basic social assistance based on the information you provide.

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